Jet Set Paragliding had another successful HAGAR course over the first weekend in January, and after some great questions and discussions during class I came up with a prep list for the 2014 flying season:
1. Ensure all paperwork and licenses are up to date
- Ham Radio License
There are a number of comps that require this so make sure you have yours before signing up. And even though you don't need to renew your license after passing the exam, you are required to send a change of address to Industry Canada. If you've moved or aren't sure if they have your current address on file, send an email to:
with your call sign, mailing address and phone number.
You may also want to look into aircraft radios if you are planning on flying through certain airspace, now would be a good time to do some research on cost and options.
- Local waivers signed and dues paid
The West Coast Soaring Club's season runs from November 1-October 31, and this year all members have to sign the new waiver. Being all paid & waiver-ed up now means you don't have to worry about it when a great flying day coincides with a day off!
HPAC now sends an email reminder when your membership is up, but as an instructor I also have to ensure that both my first aid and instructor rating are up-to-date. Check!
If you're interested in competing, you'll need to get an FAI Sporting License every year from the aeroclub website. Well, you technically don't *need* one, but it gets you listed on the FAI world ranking among other benefits.
2. Local Cross-Country route planning
At our HAGAR course we learned about some changes over our favourite flying site. That dotted arrow starting from the middle of the right side of the map below shows some possible issues.
Right where the plane starts is pretty much over our launch. The airspace we can legally fly in goes up to 6000 ft, and a few months ago this route for a commercial airliner was added to the map. This dotted line starts at 6500 ft (which we shouldn't be flying at anyway) but as you follow the dotted line the jets descend to the Abbotsford Airport. Just to the north of the dotted line is our westbound cross country route, so considering the planes will be descending along this route and we will be trying to do the opposite, good planning is in order before attempting this flight in the spring of 2014. Safe landing zones along the way should be scouted out, marked with a GPS and compared to the new airspace map. A good rainy day activity.
3. Competition Listings and Vacation Plans
Another fun thing to do when you're working every day or the weather is awful is to plan your trips! This year there are 3 big week-long competitions in a row (Rat Race, Chelan, and Canadian Nats). There are also lots of fun fly-ins and informal comps to choose from, road trips to consider and if you only get 2 weeks vacation per calendar year, you might also just want to save a week to get away in rainy November.
A couple of the websites I use to plan out my year are:
and I put a selection on my own website of course:
Instead of going away, maybe you want to plan out a few days to work with an instructor to check off the skill demonstrations to achieve your next level HPAC rating, or do some coaching to improve your thermaling ability or attempt a first XC. Contact your instructor now to discuss your goals and decide how you want to better your flying skills this year.
4. Gear Prep
Don't forget the usual - reserve repack, take your wing out kiting and carefully inspect all lines & the canopy for wear and tear and look over your whole harness. Empty out the smelly socks and stale granola bars, charge up your radios and batteries for your instruments, and stash some cash in your flight deck so you're not caught empty handed when it's time for a ride up to launch. Visualize yourself having flawless launches and landings at night while you fall asleep to feel more confident on that first flight of the season!
Feel free to leave comments with any other prep you do before the flying starts. Above all, have fun this year!